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Nursing De-stress Tips to Avoid Burnout in Healthcare

It is well known that the nursing profession is exhausting and very stressful. Registered nurses (RNs) must spend all their shifts attending to the needs of their patients with dedication and patience, even when they are not feeling well-rested or in a good mood, and making decisions that can impact patients’ lives. It’s no wonder that nursing burnout is such a common problem. This fact should not go unnoticed, as stress in nursing can be disastrous to the health of nurses and, consequently, their patients. 

What is Nursing Burnout? 

Nurse burnout is the state of mental, physical, or emotional exhaustion of nurses, caused by long work shifts (10 to 13 hours instead of 8 to 9), the pressure of caring for too many patients at once (more than 4 patients at a time is often a cause of burnout), or specialties such as emergency department (ED) nurses or intensive care unit nurses (ICU), where they need to make decisions fast and under a lot of pressure.

The first symptoms of burnout are feeling disengaged or detached, and if these symptoms are not treated, they can worsen into depression, which ends up affecting the patient directly by causing a mood of cynicism and irritability in nurses.

Another big reason for nursing burnout is the increased burden on nurses: more and more nurses need to care for more patients at a time, in addition to doing ancillary work that, due to staffing cuts, they are forced to perform.

In a study published in the journal Lancet in 2014, researchers found that the increased burden on nurses increases the chances of a patient dying within a month of being admitted to the hospital by 7%, as well as increasing the risk of patients having an intra-hospital infection. Finally, it is bad for the work environment, because nurses who are burned out cause patient satisfaction and quality of care to drop. 

Nurse Decompression Tips

If it is so important to everyone that nurses relax, it should be a matter of great importance to everyone who has a nurse in the family to help them relax. There are many actions to take that can help reduce stress in nursing:

  • Developing strong interpersonal relationships on and off the job. The importance of developing strong relationships lies in empathy, true listening, and feelings of belonging. When nurses have someone important in their lives, they can count on emotional support and understanding.
  • Watching the diet. Energy levels in the body depend on sufficient nutrients in the diet. By eating a healthy diet and taking care of their health, nurses will have a better mood and energy to work.
  • Getting enough sleep. Respecting natural sleep cycles is not always possible for nurses, however, they need to get enough sleep. Stress increases when rest is poor because reactions slow down.
  • Exercise. Stretching and exercise aside from the rather strenuous nursing work is difficult, but it is worth it because serotonin levels in the body increase, improving appetite, sleep cycles, and mood.
  • Practice meditation. Meditation is a form of relaxation that is overlooked. Anyhow, stilling the mind, being able to regulate your breathing, and having your attention focused at all times are benefits of practicing meditation and mindfulness.
  • Relaxing with one's hobbies. Whatever hobbies a nurse likes to pursue will help keep the mind distracted from any work-related worries.
  • Limit exposure to screens and social networks to a minimum. When nurses spend a lot of time fixating on negative news, they may become depressed or worried, especially in times of pandemics. It is healthy to use the media for information or distraction, but too much-prolonged exposure to screens also creates stress and fatigue in the human body.
  • Having strong support networks where they can discuss common challenges for nurses. Having spaces where groups of nurses can meet and discuss different issues that can happen at work or with the shifts they have makes for more empathy and a feeling that you are not alone. A nurse needs to know that they are not the only ones going through a situation or feeling a specific way.
  • Enjoy the days off that they have. Last but not least, nurses must be present at the time. If they have time to relax, or a day off, they should enjoy it, keeping work and private life separate. In this way, life is fuller, and it is harder to get stressed.

All of these actions help reduce stress in nurses. The Nursa™ team wants burnout and stress to become less and less of an issue, and also a topic that can be talked about freely. In these ways, nurses can decompress on their days off and focus better on their patients while working.


Booher, RN
Blog published on:
July 2, 2022

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